In Religion and the American Future (AEI Press, April 2008), edited by Christopher DeMuth and Yuval Levin, a group of distinguished scholars examines the constant tug of war between secularism and religion in America and explores what this tension will mean for the country in the future. In contrast to a predominantly secular Europe, the United States continues to experience conflict between secularism and religion that keeps Americans "constantly in contact with our founding ideals, secular and religious alike," according to Levin's introductory essay.
The volume is based on papers and discussion from a 2006 AEI conference organized by AEI's W. H. Brady Program in Culture and Freedom. Contributors include John C. Green, Douglas W. Kmiec, Roger Kimball, and Marcello Pera, as well as AEI scholars Michael Novak, Leon R. Kass, David Gelernter, Michael S. Greve, and Charles Murray.
The authors address the relationship of religion to the major secular institutions--politics, science, the law, and art--because, Levin writes, "religion has become the chief foil of every prominent secular institution in America." Despite predictions that America would follow in Europe's footsteps to become a secular society, religion has remained powerful in the United States. Therefore, the contributors do not question whether religion will survive in America but instead ponder what its future will look like and how it will shape our civic life.
"No one secret can explain this resilience of American religion," Levin writes, but the contributors to Religion and the American Future recognize the constructive tension that exists between the religious and the secular. "The secular is a legitimate regime, with its own special autonomy, rules and privileges," writes Novak, "but also with its own responsibilities and self-inflicted limitations."
For more information about this book, visit www.aei.org/book928/.